US outlines why it may impose sanctions on Iceland –

US outlines why it may impose sanctions on Iceland Published:  02 August, 2011

THE United States has outlined the reasons why it is planning to impose trade sanctions against Iceland – which could involve a ban on fish products – over its whaling policy.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has notified President Obama that Iceland’s commercial whaling and international trade in fin whale products is diminishing the effectiveness of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), and urged the Government of Iceland to cease permitting commercial whaling.

Iceland, it says,  killed 273 endangered fin whales in 2009 and 2010. Iceland has not harvested any fin whales so far in 2011, but the government continues to permit whaling and has issued a whale quota for the 2011 season.

Mr Locke said: “Iceland’s disregard for the International Whaling Commission’s global moratorium on commercial whaling is unacceptable. Iceland’s harvest of whales and export of fin whale meat threaten an endangered species and undermine worldwide efforts to protect whales. It’s critical that the Government of Iceland takes immediate action to comply with the moratorium.”

Iceland has significantly increased its whaling activities in recent years and resumed international trade in whale products. Last November, Secretary Locke issued a statement on Iceland’s escalation of its commercial whaling and its resumption of international trade in whale products, stating that the United States strongly opposes Iceland’s defiance of the commercial whaling ban, and urges Iceland to cease international trade of whale meat.

In his letter, Secretary of State Locke recommended that President Obama take a number of actions, including:

    * Direct relevant U.S. delegations attending meetings with Iceland and senior Administration officials visiting Iceland to raise U.S. concerns regarding commercial whaling by Icelandic companies and seek ways to halt such action;    * Direct Cabinet secretaries to evaluate the appropriateness of visits to Iceland depending on continuation of the current suspension of fin whaling;    * Direct the Department of State to examine Arctic cooperation projects, and where appropriate, link U.S. cooperation to the Icelandic government changing its whaling policy and abiding by the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling;    * Direct the Departments of Commerce and State to consult with other international actors on efforts to end Icelandic commercial whaling and have Iceland abide by IWC moratorium on commercial whaling;    * Direct the Department of State to inform the Government of Iceland that the United States will continue to monitor the activities of Icelandic companies that engage in commercial whaling; and    * Direct relevant U.S. agencies to continue to examine other options for responding to continued whaling by Iceland. Further, the letter directs the relevant Departments and offices to report to the President on their actions within six months, unless Icelandic nationals resume fin whaling prior to that time, in which case immediately upon resumption of fin whaling by Icelandic nationals.

The United States and the government of Bermuda have just sealed a deal to protect humpback whales in the Atlantic.